How to Start a Moving Company & How Much you can Expect to Make

November, 29, 2022

Adam Hoeksema

Moving house is one of the most difficult things a person can do. While there are plenty of options for movers to be found, customers want reassurance and security that their most precious possessions will be taken care of responsibly. If you want to start building a moving company, you will face a lot of competition, but there are ways to break in. And once you do, there is a profit to be made. 

At the end of this post, we’ll take a look at some of the ways to market yourself as a new business in order to be spotted in a crowded industry. Before that, let’s go over the industry as a whole and how to get a foot in the door and start your own moving company. 

Moving Businesses: An Industry Overview

So, what is the moving industry? It’s hard to pinpoint the average service involved since there are so many ways to approach a moving business. Companies in this industry offer a range of services depending on their market, and these can include moving simple household furniture, commercial office moves, international moving, and specialty moving services. 

So the industry is varied in the services it provides, and there are currently about 9000 companies such as these in the US, bringing in a revenue of over $18 billion. This is expected to continue to grow at around 3% through 2025 at least, as the industry demonstrates its resilience against pandemic effects.

A boost in growth in the recent year is expected to more than compensate for a brief dent during the COVID-19 restrictions as a rise in home sales and housing kicked off in 2020, and other, related services are growing in demand. Self-storage and other forms of additional storage space are on the rise, as many people are downsizing their accommodation and commercial spaces. 

Other factors that affect the industry include homeownership, economic wealth, and mobility of a specific area all contribute to the demand, as low population densities spend less on moving and storage than more densely-packed locations. Renters spend more, as do businesses occupying the areas ranked higher on economic wealth scales. 

starting a moving business

The landscape for movers is competitive. While the demand may be high, the profitability of any given company relies on how well they present themselves. Niches are hard to find in an industry where most of the services are the same, and the 50 biggest providers own 40% of the market, but smaller companies can still compete and can reach local markets with a more personable approach than some of their larger competition. 

All in all, movers are doing relatively well, and with the right approach, can weather a lot of storms that other businesses can’t. Further, it’s a flexible template for other forms of logistics; e.g., moving is a small step away from hauling, and a well-set-up moving business can easily branch out into this and other industries using a lot of the same skills and infrastructure. 

So, with all this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the prices of the bits and pieces you’ll need to start the company.

Starting a Moving Company: Startup Costs and Revenue Streams

As we mentioned, there’s a huge range of models to consider in the earliest stages of starting a moving company. You could get into commercial moves, residential moves, storage, vehicle moving, government, specialty (breakables, art, high-value items, etc.), and plenty more. You could even just go for the ‘man with a van’ model to start with and work your way up.  

So the range exists roughly between van rental and fully competent specialty relocation services, and this does make it difficult to come up with a list of financial figures that are going to be relevant to your needs. A common model is going to be a residential, end-to-end moving solution, which may or may not include packing, loading, moving, unloading, and unpacking. 

We’ll focus on something along those lines for this so that we can actually give a hint of what goes into it and what might come out. 

A starting company such as this might provide residential-only services, or may also shift commercial items too. Customized packing and moving services tend to take on a wider range of jobs, and this provides some resilience to market shifts. 

The key revenue streams for a company like this will be in the packing, loading, transporting, unloading, and unpacking of various items relating to the customer’s move. This creates costs at every stage that will vary depending on the job. 

Packaging materials, labor, fuel, insurance, licensing, and other costs associated with moving important items from one place to another will therefore determine the overall cost of running each job. That being said, if you’ve got a van, you’re practically only a registration fee away from starting the company, and this means the lower end of your plan is very achievable. 

At this low end, you’ll just need to register the company and get insured. That could cost you under $1000. If you’ve got a bigger budget that you want to spend, you’ll increase in vehicles for your fleet, which will come with corresponding increases in insurance, then you’ll need drivers, staff, and logistics software. You’ll also need a much bigger marketing budget for your teams to take your share of the market. You’ll also need communications software and hardware, and other admin like HR and Payroll tools. You’ll likely need an office too, which will come with utilities and insurance costs. 

Inventory should be pretty low, but with all of the above in mind, you could consider a low end of $1000 and a high end of $50k to $100k, depending on your goals. 

So, as you can imagine, revenue will vary quite a bit, so let’s look at it from some of the specific items. A move can involve a flat fee based on volume or weight, or it can be broken down by item. A small moving company might charge anything between $50 and $200 per item, depending on these factors, and this can be a job that runs 7 days a week. Based on five moves a week, and a haul of 15 items per move, that could net you $3750 to $15,000 a week. 

There are lots of tips at the end of this piece about how you can move from one end of that scale to the other, but as you can see, there’s significant potential to bring in good revenue. But as you’re aware, revenue is a meaningless metric without knowing your expenses, and these can be quite variable too. 

Operating a Moving Business: Startup and Ongoing Expenses

In such a competitive market, your sales and marketing are going to cost you a significant portion of both your early and ongoing budget. Variable costs will depend on fuel prices, location, the length of the journey, insurance of a specific and general nature, and several other factors. Your business model will also make a difference here, so try to fit these concepts into the model you’re hoping to use. 

Typically, you’re going to want to plan for the following costs:

  • Vehicles – You’ll need at least one, if not several, moving vehicles that are reliable and large enough to fit what you’re expecting to move. The maintenance, taxation, fueling, and insurance of these vehicles will be your ongoing costs associated with them.
  • Equipment – Luckily, this business doesn’t rely on a lot of equipment, but there are some things you’ll need to replace regularly, such as boxes, tape, and other packaging materials.
  • Office – You’ll need a headquarters to run the operation from. This might be possible from home if you’re starting small, otherwise, you’ll need an office, and possibly somewhere to house your fleet. This will come with rent and all the communications and utilities associated with the business.
  • Storage – You’ll likely need a place to store things in the short term, either for your company items or for clients, when things don’t go to plan. 
  • Media – Marketing materials, ad spend, and everything you need to get your voice heard will be a significant initial and ongoing expense when starting a moving company and will depend on your business plan. 
  • Insurance – There will be the standard set of insurance for your buildings, vehicles, and labor, but you’ll possibly want specialist insurance for specific items too. 
  • Payroll – This is the kind of job that can only be done by hand, and you’ll need to pay qualified people to do it. 

So, there are quite a few areas here in which you’ll be able to reduce costs through various means, and this will depend on how well you design your business and marketing strategies. We’ll go over a few tips in the coming sections. Before we do, let’s take a look at how all this comes together when it’s time to figure out how to start a moving company. 

How to Start a Moving Company: Getting off the Ground 

The first thing to take into account is what we’ve mentioned here a couple of times already: there are so many options when it comes to how to start a moving company, and you’re going to have to hone in on your specific approach before you do. 

This begins with setting goals that relate to why you’re getting into this in the first place, and how much you want to make. Then, it progresses to what angle you’re going to take, and what your vision statement for that approach will be. Nobody can really advise you on this; it depends solely on what you think you’re capable of and how you see your project progressing. 

Once you’ve got a mental image of this, it’s time to do the groundwork. Usually, this begins with a business plan. Your business plan will include all your research and projections and give you a much deeper understanding of the industry as a whole, your particular market, and the path to securing your market share. 

You’ll have to do some solid market research and analyze your competitors to identify who the competition is and whom you’re going to need to appeal to. Competitor analysis for this can be done from home in a lot of cases and might be as simple as identifying what the common customer complaints are, and the nature of moving company online reviews. 

For example, if you’re seeing a lot of companies showing up late, damaging items, or leaving boot prints on customers’ new carpets, you’ll immediately see several ways in which you can do things better. You’ll also get a feel for how much you can charge for your services based on the prices competitors provide. 

Next, you’ll work on your financial projections using these and other figures you’ve established in your market research. Regardless of whether or not you need to apply for funding, your projections will be a useful tool in deciding on the direction of your company. 

Check our projection template specifically for trucking and delivery businesses to make creating projections simple. Our templates are designed in a way that’s totally customizable to your needs and come with support included, so you can make professional-looking projections that will help you get a picture of your financial future, and appeal to capital providers.

Once your groundwork is done, you’ll need to register the company. Pick a name and logo, and get them designed and made official. Designing a logo can be as simple as finding a freelance designer on Fiverr or making one yourself. Either way, it doesn’t have to cost much. You can then start on your taxes and licensing. 

Licensing and taxation will vary state-to-state, as will insurance. Depending on where you want to operate, these costs will vary too. The first step to finding out will be to reach out to the Department of Transportation for advice. 

Consider whom you’re going to be employing next. Hiring can take a long time, but it makes all the difference if you have a team you can rely on. If you’re starting really small, you may need one person. If you’re building a fleet, you’ll need at least two per vehicle. It’s important to invest the necessary time into this, as when starting a moving company, your labor is your business. 

How to Start a Moving Company: Entering the Market

When this is all said and done, you’re going to need to show people you’ve arrived. Your business plan should have provided you with the information needed to understand the strategies you should employ here. Remember, this is a competitive industry, so you really do have to try and stand out. 

You may want to spend the extra on branding for your vehicles to present a professional image that’s consistent with who you are and what you do. Regardless, with the significance of your marketing in mind, it’s important to design your style of messaging, your visual appeal, and your online presence from the start and make sure everyone involved is working in alignment with this. 

how to start a moving business

Business cards, social media, newsletters, and even your email signatures should function as components of the overall branding of your company, and your ads should be targeted according to whom you identified in your market research and where they’re going to be looking. 

Even your website is a marketing tool and should have the customer journey in mind. It should be easy to get a quote, simple to book, and visually appealing to lead people in. It should also function well on mobile! 

And that’s more or less how to get started. Your marketing is your strongest tool in this industry, so we’ve got a handful of tips to help you make the most of it.

Starting a Moving Company: Marketing Tips

Just to give you that extra boost, we’ve put together some simple tips to follow to give you the best chance of breaking into the industry with your moving company. Here are some of the key features of good sales and marketing practices:

Make it easy – Don’t hide your prices or locations. If you’re offering bespoke services, at least show an example cost based on some common orders. People are more likely to go with a company that has a price visible than to contact companies for a quote when they don’t have to. Make your reviews visible, make it simple to reach out, and be fast to respond to queries. 

Be Real – If you’re putting up user reviews, don’t fake them. Use real testimonies and real photos, and make sure your image is authentic. A genuine approach is going to resonate with people a lot more than a clichéd business image, so make sure your media reflects who you are.

Remember Your Customer Perspective – Moving house is one of the most stressful things a person will do. If you can offer an understanding and compassionate service with this in mind, you’ll find your market a lot more simply. Design your marketing in a way that focuses on reassuring your customers that you’re right for them and that you know what they want. 

Use SEO – You’re going to have to fight to be seen in this competitive industry, so create content that generates attention and use search engine optimization to make sure it shows up near the top of search engine results. If you don’t have an SEO strategy for your marketing, you’ll be less likely to be spotted in the first place.

Conclusion

So, starting a company like this doesn’t have to cost much; it’s more about how you market your service. The competition is so high that your branding and outreach are the major factors in your success – more significant than the size of your fleet or the amount of money you invest. 

Once you’re in the door, you’ll have no trouble making revenue. The profit you can expect to make is therefore reliant on how streamlined your business strategy is. 

This means that starting a moving company can be done on a budget, as long as you have a robust marketing and SEO strategy. Then, simply follow the standard startup requirements for your state, have all your documents in order, and focus on hiring the right people, and you’ll be well on your way.

About the Author

Adam is the Co-founder of ProjectionHub which helps entrepreneurs create financial projections for potential investors, lenders and internal business planning. Since 2012, over 50,000 entrepreneurs from around the world have used ProjectionHub to help create financial projections.

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